A Safe Flight through Life

Digital Only: Latter-day Dads

A Safe Flight through Life

The author is from Texas, USA.

I wanted to do all I could to provide everything our infant son would need to successfully navigate this life.

Oxygen Mask

As the flight attendants began their usual safety instructions, I checked to make sure my son, Max, was secured in his infant carrier in the seat next to me on the airplane.

I reflected on the day Max was born a few months prior. When I held him for the first time in the hospital, I was determined to do everything in my power to keep him safe, teach him how to find happiness, and provide everything he would need to successfully navigate this life.

I’m sure most fathers experience these feelings. Mine were particularly poignant as I looked into his eyes and remembered the struggle of infertility that preceded his birth, with the physical, emotional, and spiritual toll that it took on me and my wife.

The flight attendants had just explained the way to use the overhead oxygen masks during an emergency, and when one of them reached our row, she had a look of absolute seriousness. She pointed right at me. “If the masks come down, you put yours on first before helping him,” she said, pointing at Max. For some reason, the emphasis with which she said the word first struck me like lightning.

Looking out the airplane window, I imagined the scene—oxygen masks deploying, doubting that I would feel comfortable wasting any time to help Max. Then the thought came to me of the words Jesus Christ spoke to Peter, whose only desire in that moment was to serve and protect the Savior: “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).

And it hit me: the best way I can help Max is to first help myself. I realized that if I needed to secure my own oxygen mask, it would only take a few seconds, but then I could fully and properly help Max. I thought for the remainder of the flight about the small and simple things—much more eternally important than oxygen masks—that I can do first that would put me in the best position to then help Max, to first become converted and to then strengthen others.

These following things only take a few minutes of my time but have made a major difference in strengthening me:

  • Kneeling in prayer helps me gain the proper focus to have an honest discussion with Father in Heaven.

  • Using a notebook or computer document to write down thoughts and insights has created a richer scripture study experience for me. 

  • Pausing to ask, “What does that really mean?” or “What does that mean for me?” while worshipping in the temple or reviewing general conference talks has helped me receive important insight and understanding.

  • Writing down how I saw the Lord’s hand in my life at the end of each day has helped me see His influence more easily and feel closer to Him.1

I reflect on the fact that Christ taught us to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33; emphasis added). When I think about “all these things,” I imagine all the blessings that Father in Heaven is waiting to pour out upon our family as we purposefully choose Him to be our God each day (see Jeremiah 24:7).

Father and Son

Many times I feel inadequate as a father and pray for answers and direction “in the very moment” I need to help others (Doctrine and Covenants 100:6). When I have made a conscious effort to first focus on my relationship with my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ, I feel in a better position to help others, especially my family.

I know that my life can become the greatest lesson I could ever teach Max and others. As I become more deeply converted to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, I can better strengthen those around me.

When life’s spiritual, emotional, or physical emergencies happen, when the figurative oxygen masks deploy, and when others need our assistance, if we have done the small and simple things to ensure a rock-solid conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel, then we will be in the best position to help others come to Him, the Master Healer and Savior of our souls.